Caterham has confirmed that it has re-signed former driver Heikki Kovalainen to become one of its two reserve drivers.
The Finn, who raced for the team for the past three years, will take on a 'formal technical development role' with the Leafield-based squad and will take part in Friday practice in both Bahrain and Spain to help the team with the introduction of a series of upgrades onto its 2013 car.
Kovalainen had looked set to spend the current campaign on the sidelines having lost his race drive, but he said he was delighted at the chance to get back behind the wheel.
“It's obviously great news that I'll be on track in Bahrain and Spain and I'm really looking forward to getting back to work and helping the team as much as I can,” he said. “I'll be taking part in the two FP1 sessions in Bahrain and Barcelona to give the team my input on the new parts we're bringing to those races, and I'll be working closely with the race drivers and the engineers on track and back at Leafield to help everyone get the most out of the new package.
“Tony, Cyril and I have been talking about me taking up this role for quite a while, so it's good to finally be able to announce how I'll be helping the team in 2013. I'm physically ready to get back into the car and I know my experience can help give the team new ideas and options for directions to take on setup and strategy. I'm looking forward to getting back to work!”
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul was also pleased to confirm Kovalainen's new deal, admitting it would be 'a waste' not to make the most of his experience in helping to develop the 2013 car.
“Heikki returns to track work with us and we are delighted to welcome him back into the team,” he said. “ He has six years of F1 experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds.
“Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings. As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team.”
Kovalainen joins Alexander Rossi on Caterham's reserve roster, with the American also now taking up a GP2 drive with Caterham Racing as part of the teams restructuring process.
Ma Qing Hua, who drove for Caterham in the first round of the GP2 season in Malaysia, will now take up a drive elsewhere and remains part of the Caterham driver roster.